I’m Eleven and It’s 89!!

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David Thurman, age 11 with the 1903 20 HP A. D. Baker.
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David with Wilbur Flemming, who is teaching him how to ''fire.'' Wilbur is one of the family's closest friends

11RRl,Box226 Archie, Missouri 64725

This is my 1903 20 HP A.D. Baker steam engine. It was bought by
my father at Earl Weaver’s sale in November of 1991. My dad was
going to part it out, but I said I would like to have it, so he
said I could work it off helping him milk our cows. I have milked
for four months now and have only missed one day. It takes two
hours to milk over 90 cows.

My dad said the boiler was in bad shape on the engine, but he
thought he could fix it. It needs a new smoke box and lots of stay
bolts replaced, as my dad said it had never seen clean water, only

At one time it was converted to a stationary engine and the rear
wheels and gearing were taken off. I would like to find them or
some that will work. My Grandpa says I didn’t get hurt buying
the engine as he said it would scrap out for what I gave for it. My
Grandma says it makes a nice yard ornament and wants to keep it in
her yard. I know it doesn’t look like much but it is very
special to me because it is my first steam engine.

My dad and my two brothers together have been collecting old
machinery for about five years. My dad has been doing it a lot
longer. We have a 1907 18 HP Peerless steam engine, McCormick
Deering threshing machine, John Deere hay baler, McCormick Deering
binder, 1932 F-20 tractor, a model steam engine, and a Case corn
binder, I.H.C. manure spreader, John Deere Plow Works silo blower,
Van Brunt drill, Hayes corn planter, and my dad is working on an
1887 Reeves clover huller which he said is the oldest of that model
left. All of our machinery that’s working is down at my
dad’s show.

We did have a model steam engine, but my dad sold it because
he’d like to have another big one. We have a friend named
Wilbur Flemming who has a 20 HP Advance and a 50 Case. He has
helped me learn how to run a steam engine, and he let my dad and I
run his last year at the show. My dad couldn’t run his Peerless
because he was too busy, but Wilbur told me to fire it up and he
helped me run it. He did all the work, as my dad only lets me
steer. He is one of Dad’s and my best friends.

Thank you for letting me share my story, and if you readers have
any parts to my Baker, I would like to hear from you. My dad said
I’m going to need all the help I can get and might not ever get
it fixed. (I said we would.) But it is one more engine saved from
the scrap pile and it is mine!

The following letter is from David Thurman’s father,

I bought this old engine at a sale for not much more than scrap
price thinking I would part it out. Well, when the auctioneer said
sold and pointed to me, my son started jumping up and down and all
the rest of the month told me what he would do with the engine if I
would just ‘sell’ it to him. So I said he would get $5.00 a
week if he helped me milk, and if he would pay me $14 a month for
18 months the engine would be his. I thought he would last a day or
two, as it takes me over two hours to milk. He has to get off the
school bus, get the cows up, milk, eat supper and do his homework
then it is bed-time. He doesn’t have any time to play except
for weekends. Well, it has been four months now and he hasn’t
missed once and he has never missed a payment as I don’t remind
him to pay. He knows he can quit at any time, but I don’t think
he will. Every night after he is done milking I see him walk around
the engine and then go home with a big smile on his face! Bill

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